Two rare Heidelberg-printed works on the Middle East

Brisson, Barnabé. De regio Persarum principatu libri tres. Editio altera [ed. Sylburg].

[Heidelberg], Hieronymus Commelinus, 1595.

8vo. (12), 378 pp., final blank f.

(Bound with): Sylburg, Friedrich. Saracenica, sive Moamethica. Ibid., 1595. (8), 152 pp. Both works have printer's woodcut device to title page. Contemporary blindstamped vellum.


I: An uncommon edition. The book was first published by Prevosteau in Paris in 1590 from the author's notes ("ex adversariis"). Essentially the sources drawn on are purely those of ancient writers, both Greek and Latin, from whom there is extensive quotation. Book I is concerned with the Persian rulers and their history, book II with religious and social life, and book III with military organisation and prowess, both ancient and modern. Brisson (1531-91) was a distinguished jurist and author of important works, notably the legal code of Henri III, but no traveller. He was hanged by the "Ligueurs" on 15 Nov. 1591. The "Typographus lectori" makes it very clear how difficult were the circumstances in which Brisson found himself, the very walls of the city being shaken by bombardment, and the shadow of death being seen everywhere, and the very opening paragraph of the text, in which Brisson speaks of "Regii nominis decus, imperii maiestatem, totumque regni statum", has contemporary resonance. Friedrich Sylburg, who acted as editor and proof-reader for the Commelin atelier, has added just a few notes at the end, the preface to these claiming that the original Paris edition of 1590 had been full of errors of transcription and editing.

II: Bound with this is the first edition of Sylburg's "Saracenica", a "theological compilation with many magical deliberations" (cf. Göllner 1878) providing a German Protestant apology against Islam based on works of the Oriental church. Contains extracts from the Panoplia of Zigabenus, a treatise against the "false prophet" Muhammad, the catechism for Saracene converts to Christianity, as well as extracts from Eutychius, Theophanes and Anastasius, printed in Greek and Latin parallel text. The "1591" edition cited by Göllner 1878 (a single supposed copy in Braunschweig) is a ghost, based on a misreading of the indistinct final digit of the imprint.

Binding stained; interior somewhat browned as common due to paper. Provenance: 1) Collection of the German historian Franz Dominikus Häberlin (1720-87) with his engr. bookplate on pastedown and monogrammed stamp on t. p. 2) Wilhelm Gesenius (1786-1842), German orientalist (his lithogr. bookplate on pastedown, with his acquisition note: "bought from D. Katsch [?] for 7 Silbergroschen"). 3) Franz Karl Movers (1806-56), German orientalist (his stamp on t. p.). 4) Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums, Berlin (stamp on reverse of title-page; dispersed in 1942). 5) Swedish trade. Two additional 18th and 19th century ownerships ("C.S." and "Dr. Levin").

I: VD 16, B 8335. Adams B 2851. BM-STC German 154. OCLC 23620760.

II: VD 16, S 10353. Adams S 2137. BM-STC German 846. Göllner 2068 & cf. 1878. Smitskamp, PO 48. OCLC 17199693.

Art.-Nr.: BN#44925 Schlagwörter: , , , ,